Gus Dur and Civil Society Movement

CIVIL society Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur was born when facing the New Order authoritarianism. New Order so strong nails digging power so that the people had almost no control and bargaining power against the state (government). People under the control and supervision of the state. The both relationships are so lame. The imbalance that led to the dominance of the state is so strong. Civil society movements want to change this situation. The relationship between the two (state/society) should be balanced. Society must be able to do a check and balance to the whole policy of the state.

New Order government reflects the militaristic government form. Often the name of the country’s stability and development, community aspirations muzzled exhausted. In the New Order era almost all elements of civil society, such as NGOs, CBOs, Press Institute, political parties-all of them stuck paralyzed by the state.

How does actually the relationship between society and the state along the New Order government today? Nur Syam in his paper “Gus Dur and Civil Society Movement” divide three typology or mapping based on the specified period.

First, the relationship is very unbalanced. This happened during the period 1970s to 1980s. At that time the country was so powerful. States control over everything. At least, according to Nur Syam, it marked three things: (1). Fusion of political parties. The era of multi-party during the Old Order is terminated by merging (fusion) into a three-party only: Golkar, PPP and PDI. Three of the party is a fusion of the 10 parties. Through this merger, the government wanted to Golkar became a single majority. Meanwhile, two other parties are just a partner, not a political contestant; (2). Negaranisasi process systemically, ie all the forces of society are represented in the social and religious institutions sucked into the power of the state government through political parties. In this era in villages mobilization of Kyai, community leaders, government officials are keen to sign Golkar done, even through coercion and violence; (3). Strengthening government positioning through single principle for all elements of civil society organizations, political and religious. Government pressure was so strong even in these years NU should accept Pancasila.

Second, the era is not balanced, ie the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s. In this era has emerged awareness of the need for balance between state power and the strength of the community. Gus Dur founded the Democracy Forum (FORDEM) and among young people appears People’s Democratic Party (PRD). In this period marked the rise of political violence by the state.

Third, the era is quite balanced in the mid-1990s to the 2000s. This era marked the strengthening of civil society through the reform movement of 1998. In the 1999 elections the multiparty reappear. People dare to express their aspirations through demonstrations; press freedom was wide open, many emerging new NGOs, etc.

Fourth, the balance era. It started in the 2000s until now. In this era, people’s position is as strong as a country. There are checks and balances of the people against the government, so that the state cannot do arbitrary and self as good as it was under the control of the people. Something that did not occur in the New Order era occurred in the present era.

The emergence of the power of civil society is not separated from the services of Gus Dur. In the New Order era where the state is so strong, Abdurrahman had gained establishing FORDEM as a rival (counter hegemony) to the power of the state gigantic and powerful.

Islam and Civil Society

Gus Dur brings Islam into the movement of civil society through socio-cultural approach. According to Gus Dur, socio-political approach to Islam only cause bridal or coopted Islam and the state will only be a source of legitimacy of the state. As a result, religion will only be part of the status quo.

According to Gus Dur, socio-political lines altogether unsuitable and positioned to project democratization and empowerment (civil society). Because it already contains terminus contradiction in it.

Therefore, said Gus Dur, struggles toward democracy and the empowerment of civil society can be achieved when using the instrument in creating a moral right political orientation through community institutions are independent and autonomous. This instrument serves to embed moral values of democracy and an attempt to achieve the life of the nation.

Islamic organization, said Gus Dur, should select and use the instrument as a means of moral purpose, grounding, and the ideals of the struggle.

Morality is meant here is the morality that supports the realization of a society justice, daulat legal fortune, openly (open society), and accept and appreciate the difference.

According to Gus Dur in essence of Islam is not so interested in political power in the sense of country institutions. Islam is more focused on moral politics. Therefore, there is no strange, if there is no fixed rule in Islam concerning the country system. In al-Qur`an themselves, word “al-Dawlah” which means the state was never mentioned. Which is precisely the explicit mention is the word “Baldah” which means nation or community. Thus, since the beginning of Islam is more interested in civil society movements, rather than build a country.

Well, to realize the civil society based on the values of Islam, the first of all need to change the paradigm of moral right in Muslims itself. Because, said Gus Dur, Muslims currently plagued with disease “double morality”. This disease causes to be a dichotomy between worldly matters and ukhrawiyah.

The most obvious example of this double morality disease is the pride and excitement of some Muslims to build a mosque or maintain any religious rites, but at the same time not so concerned about the issues of poverty, human rights abuses, or corruption.

These days double morality is also shown by the majority of Muslims are quick to react to issues of religion, such as the defamation of religion, but not uncomfortable against the eviction of the houses of the poor, land grabs by the state, public officials or politicians of corruption, terrorism, and others are considered not to have a correlation with religion.

According to Gus Dur, the morality that must be built is a morality that has the main character in the form of involvement in the struggles of the poor to earn a decent living at the same time respect their rights.

By placing the moral paradigm for civil society movements, indirectly Gus Dur provides a foundation for the development of theological and strategic thinking and civil society movements in Indonesia. So no exaggeration if one says that the main drivers of the rise of civil society in Indonesia are the thinking and various activism of Gus Dur. Wallahu a’lam bi al-shawab.

Missed Gus Dur

GUS DUR is the unfinished text. As a text, Gus Dur never completely understood, be deciphered, excavated, and reconstructed back the meaning.

Al-Imam al-Allama al-Ghazali in “Fayshal al-Tafriqah” and “Qanun al-Ta’wil” mentions that the text has many layers of meaning that are hierarchies. Like layers of onion, when opening the first layer, we’ll find a second layer, third layer, and so on. The deeper we extracted, the more and more rich the meaning of it.

Likewise, when reading Gus Dur, we will find a lot of meaning with various gradations and dimensions. Sometimes the meanings that do not appear alone, but must be sought and found himself.

Gus Dur had died, but the writing and acting is alive and inspire millions of followers, admirers, sympathizers, and his disciples. Gus Dur also reviled, despised, and even misunderstood by those who had been hostile to it. (Gus Dur, by his own admission, has no enemies)

I became acquainted with Gus Dur through his writings when I was at boarding in Lirboyo, Kediri. “God Not Needed to be Defended” is the first book I read.

Honestly, although I have read many times, I do not understand what this means. It remained dark. For the students who are still sitting in the Elementary level, Gus Dur books classified as heavy reading. The language is not so familiar. Moreover, the “white book” was so popular and not widely read by the students. In fact, at that time the students prohibit consume readings other than “yellow book”.

I bought it because interested with the title: “God Not Needed to be Defended”. The title challenging teachings and doctrines that have been taught in a boarding school: the Lord shall be exalted, God must be lifted, and even God must be fought and contested even by the way of warfare: jihad.

Gus Dur in his writings seems flipping everything, undermining the doctrine that has been so well-established and established. Those kinds of conclusions will appear if we only look at and read the title, without understanding the content and meaning (significance level at the next level).

Often people perceive and understand Gus Dur from the “title”: a fragment of statements that are not integrated. In addition replacing the greetings “Assalamualaikum” with “good morning/ afternoon/evening”, Indonesian Muslims has argue by Gus Dur statement “Al-Qur`an is porn scripture”.

Of course, the spontaneity, the statement gets the reactions of some Muslims. Gus Dur was accused of insulting Islam and Muslims, desecrating holy al-Qur`an as Kalamullah (Allah Words). Because of that statement, Rizieq Shihab, leader of the FPI, up to insult Gus Dur “the blind eyes and blind heart” (broadcast on TV live).

Unfortunately, most are not following down first origin of the statement. Although Gus Dur himself had clarified his statement, the media already overdo fry the statement as a public issue. Porn, said Gus Dur, cannot be defined normatively. The porn concept is in our own heads. It could be, said Gus Dur, certain verses in al-Qur`an, such as QS. al-Baqarah: 233, understood as pornographic that nothing goes wrong in our brain.

After Gus Dur, seems we don’t have religious leader who dared to “put the body” and not afraid to go against the flow tendency of people thinking (commonly). Gus Dur has carry the torch of truth in the midst of darkness, without the slightest fear of abused, reviled, hated, despised even by those who love darkness. Perhaps this is touted QS. Yunus: 62, “Inna awliyâ` Allahi la khawfun alayhim yahzanûn wala hum,” (actually trustees [lover] God was never scared and sad)

At the time of fascism-New Order authoritarianism to exert influence and power is so strong, Gus Dur against by creating a force of civil society and democratic turn.

As a Kyai and also as Islamic thinker, Gus Dur did not have to bother looking for the proposition, reason, comparison, or justification of religion, whether “civil society” and “democracy” does not conflict with Islam? Is it necessary to look for its origin in the early generations of Islam during the Prophet era (peace be upon him) forming the Muslim community? Gus Dur also never asks or inquires what kind of creature “civil society” and “democracy” is? He came from where? And, is it both of them there in al-Qur`an, al-Hadith, or sheets of yellow book?

Gus Dur not need postulate because he is a proposition himself. When Gus Dur defended Ahmadiyah, Chinese communities, or even Inul Daratista, Gus Dur said only that their rights are protected by law. Gus Dur not need froth borrow religious pluralism Ibn Arabi or Rumi.

For Gus Dur, the essence and purpose of religion is only one: humanity. Religion is increasing human values. Also raised the dignity of humanity. The consequences, if there is a religious teachings as contradictory or degrading human values, then the religious teachings should be deciphered and reinterpreted and adapted to the purpose, intent, and human needs.

God does not need human and religion is not for God. If God willed, He would create one nation, one religion, one race, one ethnicity, and one country,” [QS. al-Nahl: 93].

In the chaotic situation like this, we certainly could not have wished Gus Dur reborn. Within a certain time every community there is a “Prophet” himself. Perhaps, at this time, our nation is experiencing a fathrah time—a situation where people lose grip, role models, guidance, and exemplary leader. Wallâhu a’lam bi al-shawâb.